Northern Nevada HOPES Raises Awareness on Restoring Ex-Felons’ Voting Rights

Restore your vote buttons. Image: Victoria Janicke.
Restore your vote buttons. Image: Victoria Janicke.

Northern Nevada HOPES on Tuesday hosted a Campaign Legal Center’s press conference on Restore Your Vote, a program that will help reinstate the voting rights of individuals with felony convictions.

The Restore Your Vote campaign’s goal is to raise visibility and awareness of former convicted felons’ access to vote. This campaign supports restoring these citizens’ right to vote in conjunction with the American Civil Rights Liberty Union, lawyers, and local resources.

Rita Greggio, an attorney in the Medical-Legal Partnership at Northern Nevada HOPES and speaker at yesterday’s event, clarified the issue: “It’s terribly difficult to be a felon in Nevada. Some fairly small crimes that aren’t felonies in other states can be considered felonies in Nevada.”

Restore Your Vote crew.
Image: Victoria Janicke.

Nevada allows former convicts who have been honorably discharged from parole, and who have a single, non-violent felony conviction, to have their voting rights automatically restored. They are also given back their rights to serve on a jury.

Anthony Risota, moderator and organizer for the Restore Your Vote conference, spoke on the education efforts this campaign is offering. There are a 23 million felony convicts in the United States, 17 million of them are eligible to have their voting rights reinstated, but many are unaware this is even a possibility. Before the launch of Restore Your Vote’s website, only 12 eligible felony convicts in Northern Nevada had reclaimed their right to vote

Since the launch of project’s website in August, more than 17,000 people have visited the website. In just the past few weeks, Restore Your Vote has begun the reinstatement of voting rights to over 400 individuals.

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“It’s really important work to empower people. Stripping the right to vote is just one of the ways that individuals stay oppressed after they did their time and paid for their crimes,” said speaker Mahalia Jaramillo, a daughter of a formerly incarcerated felon and local advocate for voting rights registration in Reno.

Just yesterday Cory Motschenbacher, a man with a past felony conviction dating back to the ’90s, restored his right to vote.

“Restore Your Vote helped me get my voice back. It’s fantastic and now I’ll vote,” he said. With mid-term elections around the corner on November 6, the push to get people out to vote, including former convicts, is in full force.

Nevada’s current incarceration rate is higher than the national average. Today, there are approximately 90,000 individuals serving time for felonies and more than 62,000 of these individuals are eligible, but unaware their voting rights can be restored. This leaves a large demographic of Nevada citizens who may not know they are actually eligible to vote for a public policy or candidate that could impact their lives.

For more information of Restore Your Vote, click here: restoreyourvote.org

Victoria Janicke
About Victoria Janicke 27 Articles
Torri is back in Reno in pursuit of what sets her soul on fire: documenting social issues and following stories wherever she goes. After her last freelance story with ThisIsReno in 2014, Torri has spent the past four years as a bilingual advocate for victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and other traumatic crimes in diverse cities from San Diego to the rural deep South where she earned her master's degree in social work. There, she developed a successful non-profit food pantry on campus, established, and created a disaster relief initiative for the School of Social Work and even volunteered to support refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan over a winter holiday break.